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Hear Res. 2006 Jun-Jul;216-217:127-37.

Afferent regulation of neuron number in the cochlear nucleus: cellular and molecular analyses of a critical period.

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Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Graduate Program in Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Washington, WA 98195, USA.


The neurons of the cochlear nucleus are dependent on input from the auditory nerve for survival during a critical period of development in a variety of vertebrate species. The molecules that underlie this age-dependent vulnerability to deafferentation are for the most part unknown, although recent studies have begun to yield interesting candidate genes. Here, we review the studies that originally described the presence of afferent dependent neuron survival in the cochlear nucleus and the age-dependency of this effect, as well as more recent work that seeks to understand the mechanisms underlying the neuron loss that occurs and the basis of this critical period. While much of the past work on cochlear nucleus neuronal susceptibility has been conducted looking at one or two genes at a time, recent advances in genomics make it possible to screen tens of thousands of genes while looking for candidate genes that are determinants of the critical period response to afferent deprivation.

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